Ed Davey writes: I want to rebuild our party and take on the Tories

As we wrap up the Liberal Democrat leadership election, I wanted to thank the thousands of people who have taken part in hustings, sent in questions to the campaigns and engaged in this contest.

It’s absolutely right that there is a robust process that properly tests our next leader, and makes sure that whoever wins on Thursday has been put through their paces by the party. Whatever happens later this week, I know that Liberal Democrats will come together and turn our hand to doing what we do best, getting out campaigning and standing up for communities up and down the country.

If you haven’t returned your ballot yet then there is still time to vote for me so that we can rebuild our party on solid foundations, and campaign for a fairer, greener and more caring society. That’s my vision for the future of our party, and I know I’ve got the experience we need to deliver it. 

With your support, I want to rebuild our party and take on the Tories, and put more Liberal Democrats in town halls, council chambers and Parliaments right across the country.

But we have to be realistic with the challenge that we face. Even a quick glance at our election review will tell you that the next leader, whoever it is, will be taking on a big job. There are deep, structural challenges that the party faces and it will take time for us to fix the problems Dorothy Thornhill identified in her review, and put the party in the best place to get back to winning elections.

We are living through the largest recession in 300 years, in a global pandemic that has utterly transformed our way of life, and our party is coming off the back of a poor general election result. There are reasons to be optimistic, especially in terms of our success in local Government elections last year, and I want to build on those foundations, but the rebuilding project is one whose timeline is years, not months.

I have said all through the campaign that there are no quick fixes, but I have spent my life taking on big challenges and I am excited at the prospect of doing so now. From back when I was a young carer to my mum, to facing down Boris Johnson at Prime Ministers Questions I have always taken on the challenges that are put in front of me, and I’m prepared for this one as well.

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Barry Lofty 25th Aug '20 - 5:55pm

    After nearly a lifetime of disappointments in supporting the Liberal/Lib Dems and yet again they are in the doldrums, all I personally wish for at the moment is for the party to hold the present government to account as often as possible! Sadly I have to face the fact that time is not on my side to witness something greater. Anyway best of luck to the new leader.

  • David Evershed 26th Aug '20 - 1:55am


    Why do you only want to take on the Tories and not Labour, SNP, Greens and so on?

    Even better make a positive case for being liberal and voting Lib Dem.

  • @ David Evershed

    Maybe because the Tories have a majority of 80 odd and the Lib Dem’s are in second place to them in 80 odd seats?

  • James Moore 26th Aug '20 - 9:14am

    The fact there have been 47 hustings, none of which have been noticed by the mainstream media tells you all you need to know about the state of the party. Too much time spent talking to each other, not enough making a positive impact on the wider world.

    I hope Ed wins as he is a safe pair of hands in a very difficult time. However he has hardly pulled up trees as caretaker and, as a consequence, we are left in a very dangerous position. The other candidate is likely to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Just about every story in the press about the Lib Dems will be about domestic abuse and private lives.

    The party cannot get across its issues when the leader is the issue. We should have learned that from poor Tim Farron – a very decent guy but not someone with the judgment for leadership in difficult times.

  • Innocent Bystander 26th Aug '20 - 9:34am

    Will the “green revolution” involve British ministers begging the French and Chinese, and then giving them huge sums of money, to help us out?

  • richard underhill. 26th Aug '20 - 10:50am

    James Moore 26th Aug ’20 – 9:14am
    “The party cannot get across its issues when the leader is the issue.”
    Do you remember that Paddy Ashdown filed some papers with a solicitor which were stolen in a burglary?
    We went up in the polls. (“All publicity is good publicity”?
    I am not suggesting that either of our candidates should copy that, although Paddy Ashdown’s wife distracted the media pack in London by walking the dog.
    When the then captain of Manchester United commented about the Irish football team, of which he was a member, he distracted the press by walking his dog, and showing how overweight and overburdened they were at the time.
    Monty Don on BBC2 Gardeners’ World had a dog which had its own fan club, but it died, so he now has one dog of a similar colour and another dog, smaller but of a different breed. Does this tell us something about UK society?
    Our candidate in the Orpington bye-election (since ennobled) said that “They were only interested in their front gardens.
    Our general election candidate in North Devon, and future leader, reputedly won by commenting on the height of the dahlias.
    He also said that the PM “lays down his friends for his life” after a cabinet reshuffle.
    Boris seems to be avoiding reshuffles. Maybe he has learned something.

  • Robert (Bristol) 26th Aug '20 - 12:28pm

    I well remember the ‘Paddy Pantsdown’ headlines in the tabloids. We did indeed go up in the polls and it was because Paddy called a press conference, put his hands up, apologised and we all, including the voters, moved on.

  • David Garlick 26th Aug '20 - 5:52pm

    I voted for Ed. If elected the new leader will have a big job on their hands which will require all of their strength and experience to pull off. Vision is key and I voted for Ed because I believe his version is both doable and communicable in a way that can be made sufficiently hopeful for all to follow.

  • James Moore 26th Aug '20 - 5:54pm

    In response to the above comments, I think the theory that any publicity is good publicity was tested to destruction by Jeremy Thorpe.

    The idea that Paddy’s difficult personal life helped the part’s revival is one of those bizarre myths that doesn’t go away. Good local government election results produced by effective G8 targeting and the unpopularity of the Tories was much more important in the revival of the party. Of, course by 1997 Paddy’s outstanding personal and leadership qualities also shone through and made a major impact – but that was nothing to do with his earlier problems.

  • Peter Watson 26th Aug '20 - 8:50pm

    @richard underhill “We went up in the polls. (“All publicity is good publicity”)”
    Before 2010, the case could be made that Lib Dems did better in elections than they polled between elections because voters forgot about the party until it received equal coverage and publicity in an election campaign. In the run up to the 2015 General Election it seemed some were still clinging to the hope that this trend would save the party despite 5 years of a lot of publicity!
    Given that the 2019 Election was not that long ago and that Lib Dems received a fair amount of attention at the time with defections to the party, Brexit protests, etc., I suspect that publicity alone would be nothing like enough to boost the party at the moment. That said, the party should certainly do what it can to publicise the appointment of its new leader, who should probably try to make some sort of attention-grabbing statement immediately; every little helps!

  • Galen Milne 27th Aug '20 - 8:15am

    The Party needs to rebuild and that means the work behind the scenes is equally if not more important than making headlines with sound bites and celebrity show appearances. That’s why we require a leader who understands the Party from the bottom up. That should be Ed Davey by a country mile so fingers crossed the majority of members agree this time around.

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